by Peter Akinnusi
The honest truth is being the first to go to a new place can be really scary. Yes, the possibilities are endless and exciting but there’s also the slight chance you could encounter something you were really never prepared for. I’m sure this is a sentiment Lecrae can relate to. Literally the poster boy for a genre that he recognises as what gave him a voice and platform and at the same time a label that places some level of stigma on him he has blazed trails like no one else before him did. You could be forgiven for thinking that this album was based on label mate KB’s song “Anomaly” from the Weight and Glory album but his seven album journey has brought him to a place where he declares that “the system didn’t plan for this” and just like the albums Rebel, Rehab and Gravity all pointed to a contrast with popular culture Anomaly is yet another Lecrae project pointing to a different way.
Boasting production from heavyweights such as Gawvi (formerly G-styles) and Alex Medina as well as strong features from artistes as diverse as Kari Jobe and Andy Mineo, Anomaly is a good album from the sonic standpoint. At some points a few of the beats sound like leftovers from Tedashii’s Below Paradise or carryovers from Gravity nevertheless Lecrae’s ability to mix up his often reflective and good flow over mid-tempo to upbeat instrumentals shines through, just don’t expect any “club bangers” though. His signature story-telling and (almost sermon like) social commentary also is present as always and overall the content of the album is one that pretty much anybody can relate to. On songs like “Broken”, “Wish”, “Outsiders” and “Fear” we see a man who realises he has a responsibility to God and the world that he takes seriously even if the uncertainties ahead humble and possibly scare him. He even goes as far as sharing how he was sexually abused as a child on “Good, Bad, Ugly”, a commendable move that is something we rarely see in hip hop or males today.
Always one to point out society’s failings Lecrae uses “Nuthin” featuring the very much on the rise Dimitri McDowell (watch out for him) and “Timepiece” to address both the monotonous drone of empty songs on the radio as well as the importance of not wasting one’s life via making the most of the time we are given, both songs would effortlessly hold their own on mainstream radio. Then there’s the seemingly requisite CHH + CCM formula song “Messengers” which features the band for KING and COUNTRY and basically re-emphasises the Great Commission Christ gave us over a generic pop beat.
Perhaps the strongest song of the lot is “Dirty Water” a track with a really strong trap beat that could mess the face up while setting the brains wheels all spinning frantically. This song properly addresses the inconsistencies within hip hop as a culture, the Church and even touches on racism and modern day slavery. One of the most poignant lines you’d hear anywhere jump out on the first verse where Lecrae goes “If I aint about that life I aint livin’/but maybe if you can’t see my light then maybe I aint in it“. Truly one of Lecrae’s strongest offerings in while. “All I need is You” is a sweet and catchy love song that’ll get couples pretending they have good voices as they sing to each other globally. Again Lecrae does his thing with sincerity and by far one of the best videos CHH has seen (look out for a cool cameo from Humble Beast’s Propaganda) as JPaul sings “…by my side, thick and thin, don’t let go… we gon’ ride, we gon’ win, dunno how, all I know is,you’re all I ever needed…” I’m really delighted it’s now “okay” to put out love songs in the genre without getting eyebrows move up north.
While the album’s strengths abound there are the few for lack of a better term “mis-hits” with the title track “Anomaly” for some strange reason not being the album intro, then there’s the warning against the drawbacks of lust with “Runners” which quite frankly seems like a stale rehash of the opinions of the entire genre (it almost seems like Lecrae is saying don’t cheat so as not to get caught). The overall album theme also comes across as stale although some might cite this as consistency on Lecrae’s part following the Church Clothes mixtapes. There’s the touchy issue of certain songs sounding a lot like mainstream artistes like Kendrick Lamar, Chris Brown and even Sam Smith. One would think after the storm of copyright infringement lawsuits that just passed this is the sort of thing Lecrae would have avoided.